FORGIVENESS is about putting yourself FIRST
“Forgiveness is choosing to love. It is the first skill of self-giving love.”Mahatma Gandhi
Forgiveness is not an easy virtue. Perhaps it’s because of all the connotations of being divinely compassionate and empathic that go with it and, most of the time, we are just getting by on being human with all our challenges and myriad of emotions.
Our earliest encounter with the virtue of forgiveness, no matter our race or religion, is probably a Christian one, where we learn about Jesus asking God to forgive the people who are killing him. When confronted with such an incredible act of forgiveness and mercy, it is natural for us to want to emulate this, but how realistic are we being with ourselves?
When an event occurs which makes us feel hurt, wronged or angry, our tendency is to deny what we are feeling. Why? Because certain emotions are deemed inappropriate and we would rather try to fit in, than just be!
One of the primary emotions we encounter when someone does something bad to us is to feel angry. Yet we are told that anger is not a good emotion and, through society, our parents and school, we learn that anger is a bad thing and that it should be avoided and repressed at all cost. The truth of the matter is that we wouldn’t be able to feel angry if we didn’t have use for it. We are told to “turn the other cheek” and “forgive and forget”. But what if stifling your anger is not what God or Source wants you to do? Emotions are the driver’s manual to our Selves and often when we suppress what we are feeling we don’t open up to growth and expansion and could therefore find ourselves repeating the same mistakes over and over again. Furthermore, when we are asked to “just move on”, we are being denied the chance to be heard, even by our own selves.
Forgiveness should be a natural consequence of processing our feelings, not forced upon ourselves in an attempt to be more divine than we are. This is perhaps something we struggle with, especially as a spiritual or religious person – an overwhelming need to be loving and graceful in the face of all odds. Yet, if you deny yourself and your feelings in the name of being Godly, you deny your Self the opportunity of tuning in to your own divinity.
Forgiveness is not about absolving the person or situation that has hurt you. It’s about yourself, processing everything you’ve been through so that you get to a place where you are not replaying the event in your mind. Forgiveness should be about releasing the anger that you feel: The anger toward the person or situation and yourself. When anger accompanies self-blame, this is not forgiveness.
So, how to process forgiveness for others and yourself?
Firstly, acknowledge how your truly feel?
Learn to identify truly how the person, event or situation is making you feel. Owning up to how you feel and looking inward for answers is the true way to expansion, growth and connecting to Source or God. If you are good enough to yourself to acknowledge that you were wronged, it means that you love and respect yourself. Too often we allow people to trample over us believing that we deserve it in some way. It’s important to own up to your anger and bless it, knowing that it is showing you that you need to love yourself and know that wrong was done to you.
Next, don’t force yourself to be a saint.
Remember that we are spiritual beings having a human experience. We chose to be humans with all our wealth of feelings and senses. There must be a divine reason for that. Therefore, we shouldn’t force ourselves to be completely divine and saintly in our daily existence. This is not to say that you are not divine, but forcing yourself to be something or feel something that you are not experiencing in the moment is not good for your soul, psyche or wellbeing. In everything you do, be honest with yourself, because the truth does set you free.
Realising when it’s ok to forgive.
If people genuinely apologise for their behaviour and you can have an open and honest conversation about it and if history has taught you that this person won’t commit the same hurt again, then you should allow yourself to forgive. A good gauge is to test emotional residue: If you’ve forgiven the person and it is real and genuine, you won’t feel any lingering resentment. Another way of looking at forgiveness, particularly when it comes to events and situations, is to understand what your lesson was, if it served you in any way and to release it. Being able to acknowledge this means tapping into your inherent wisdom and intuition. Again, you can test through emotional residue. If there is still anger, shame or doubt then there is more work to be done.
Letting go and affirming respect for yourself
If we’ve never been taught to love and respect ourselves, we could let people walk all over us. When you realise that there’s a difference between true forgiveness and repression then you are well on the way to respecting yourself, for, if you love and respect yourself, you will not let anyone treat you in any way they want and let them get away with it. Respecting ourselves also means being able to speak up for ourselves in a way that is full of good intentions for ourselves and those whom we are confronting. A good way to learn how to do this is simply to affirm: “I lovingly and easily speak up for myself for the highest good of all.”
Forgiveness is not about blame either
Remember that forgiving is not about taking the high road either. We should be able to look at the situation and see how we had a hand in creating it; not just to judge and blame the person or event and absolve ourselves of our part in it by showing that we are divine in our ability to let go and forget. This solves nothing and doesn’t allow you to learn from the situation. If forgiveness is handled the right way you’ll feel the release and comfort of letting go when you are truly OK with what has happened and the fact that you understood the circumstances, why it happened and that everything is OK. Even if you choose to distance yourself from people and relationships that are not good for you, as long as you feel that it’s the best thing for you, this too is forgiveness and truly letting go.